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  • Students from Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck, New York work on LVJA course

    Students from Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck, New York work on LVJA course "Themes in Megillat Esther" ​

    Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy Named One of America's Top 50 Innovative Jewish Organizations

    Date: 2016-03-08 Hour: 12:49

    Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy, a project of Bar-Ilan University's Lookstein Center for Jewish Education, has been named one of North America’s top 50 innovative Jewish organizations in the eleventh annual Slingshot Guide, released this week.  

    “Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy is honored and inspired to be selected for this year’s Slingshot Guide and recognized as one of the most innovative Jewish organizations in America today,” said Chana German, Director of Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy. “Our team has demonstrated that innovation, passion, and perseverance can be transformative in the Jewish educational landscape. We are thankful to Slingshot, and thrilled to be joining a growing network of organizations that are deeply committed to innovation and bettering the Jewish community." 

    LVJA is a new model in Jewish education that works in conjunction with existing Jewish schools to create an online education platform, connecting Jewish middle and high school students to substantive Jewish learning. Utilizing LVJA as a piece of the puzzle transforms schools' abilities to differentiate and individualize instruction, offer a greatly expanded Judaic studies catalog, and allocate resources responsibly.

    The online curriculum is designed to support both the community and Orthodox schools as well as the multiple academic levels of students. LVJA has already worked with 700 students in grades 6-12 in 50 schools in Toronto, Sydney, and many states across North America, including California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Participants span multiple locations across the country and work in synchronicity (or not), independently or collaboratively. Whatever a student’s course of study, LVJA works closely with schools to ensure that their needs are being met and to support them through their instruction.

    Selected from among hundreds of finalists reviewed by 93 professionals with expertise in grant-making and Jewish communal life, the Guide called Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy “a leader in educational circles,” and continued “it is using technology in the best way possible: to ignite positive educational change that is widely accessible.” Organizations included in this year’s Guide were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact they have in their work, the leadership they have in their sector, and their effectiveness at achieving results. Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy is proud to be among the 50 organizations honored for meeting those standards.

    Stefanie Rhodes, Executive Director of Slingshot, which publishes the Guide each year, said, “Slingshot’s work is to help Jews find, fund and connect to meaningful, exciting experiences in Jewish life. After 11 years, the book remains relevant because it continues to highlight organizations doing exceptional work, serving as the trailblazers for what is possible and inspiring all of us. Whether we look to the guide for funding ideas, best practices or trends in Jewish life, it remains a resource for all of us, providing tremendous hope for our collective future.”

    Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy is a project of The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education of Bar-Ilan University.  The Lookstein Center is deeply committed to enhancing the quality of Jewish education in the Diaspora. The Center’s staff works with hundreds of Jewish day schools to identify and solve problems facing the Jewish educational world today, translating innovative ideas into practical solutions: curriculum, resources, programs, and community action. The culture of fostering innovation and championing new ideas in the field has resulted in game-changing work including Lookstein's Israel Curriculum, Lookjed, The Jewish Educational Leadership Journal, and Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy. The Lookstein Center has more than three decades of experience in the fields of classical and distance educational programming. Approaching its fourth decade, The Lookstein Center is staffed by a team of senior educators with wide ranging experience in Jewish education, as well as academic consultants.

    "The Lookstein Center has always partnered with educators and schools to explore ways and implement programs to enhance educational leadership, teaching and learning.  Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy's high quality and engaging courses build on this tradition and demonstrate that technology can be a key tool in improving learning and enriching school programs," said Stuart Zweiter, Director of the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education.

    LVJA is supported by The Avi Chai Foundation, The Kohelet Foundation, and The William Davidson Foundation, with additional support from The Joshua Venture Group.

    About the Slingshot Guide

    The Slingshot Guide, now in its eleventh year, was created by a team of young funders as a guidebook to help funders of all ages diversify their giving portfolios to include the most innovative and effective organizations, programs and projects in North America. The Guide contains information about each organization’s origin, mission, strategy, impact and budget, as well as details about its unique character. The Slingshot Guide has proven to be a catalyst for next generation funding and offers a telling snapshot of shifting trends in North America's Jewish community – and how nonprofits are meeting new needs and reaching new audiences. The book, published annually, is available in hard copy and as a free download.